Last year marked 50 years since Carroll Shelby’s invasion of Europe’s racing circuits, winning the World Manufacturer’s GT trophy with an all-American team for the very first time.
He did this by importing British AC Ace coupés and fit them with Ford’s huge V8 engine – a combination with so much ‘bite’ that he dubbed his car the ‘Cobra’, coining an immortal automotive name in the process.
Swiss watchmaker Baume & Mercier has never been known for its driver’s watches, but any bemusement following the announcement of its marking this anniversary was quickly annulled by the sheer cool of the commemorative watches themselves: surprisingly affordable versions of the retro Capleland chronograph, in Shelby team colours, the seconds hand cleverly counterbalanced by the Cobra logo.
It’s a partnership that was cemented in no uncertain terms by April’s ‘Shelby Only’ meeting, when the watchmaker brought together unprecedented numbers of authentic Shelby American cars on the famous Le Castellet race track in the south of France.
Of course, this couldn’t go without horological recognition, so Baume & Mercier has launched four new “Drivers Editions”, limited to 15 each, in tribute to Shelby’s four most audacious pilots: Dan Gurney and Dave MacDonald of the original 1963 team and the following season’s Ken Miles and Allen Grant (number “96”, pictured; £3,500).